KUDOS TO Delsea coach Sal Marchese and West Deptford coach Clyde Folsom, for treating their Thanksgiving rival games the way they did.
Delsea hosted Williamstown on Thanksgiving, while Paulsboro traveled to West Deptford the next night.
Delsea and West Deptford knew their seasons would be continuing past those games, as they had secured a matchup against each other in the Group 2 final, which will be played tomorrow night at 7 at Delsea.
Neither coach held back in trying to win the Thanksgiving games, even though they needed manpower for the rest of the season.
The disappointment on Marchese's face was matched by Folsom's the next day, as Delsea fell, 31-14, and Paulsboro beat West Deptford, 19-10.
"West Deptford is a good team, and we're anxious to play them," Marchese said following the Williamstown loss. "But right now, I'm disappointed that we didn't win this game. We wanted to win and we played to win. They were just the better team today.
"The game against West Deptford should be a good one. Both teams like to run the ball, and both are pretty good at it. There's a lot of speed on both sides. We'll have to play well in order to beat them."
Folsom was not happy as Paulsboro handed the Eagles their first loss.
It is a great lesson to the players that every game has meaning. The players and the fans deserve a game that's competitive and has both teams playing to win.
Would anyone have faulted the coaches if they tried to save their star players for the title game? Perhaps not. But we don't have to worry about it, because both did the right thing.
And there certainly was no lack of effort on their players' parts, either. Good stuff all around.
Friday night at Paulsboro-West Deptford, umpire George Schools, of Woolwich Township, called his final game after 35-plus seasons on the football field. Schools was his usual steady self and was surrounded on the field by a handpicked group.
"At the beginning of the season, I asked to have certain guys be on the field with me for my last game," Schools said. "These are some of the guys who I've been reffing with forever. It's time for me to get out. I've enjoyed doing it and I still enjoy it, but it's just time."
Good luck, George.
* Hammonton (9-2) at Shawnee (11-0), Group 3 Final, 7 p.m.
It's been said over and over again, and nothing has really changed. If Shawnee doesn't win this, it would be a surprise. The Renegades simply have all the tools, with an offense featuring running back Chris LaPierre, South Jersey's leading scorer, and a hounding defense. Coach Tim Gushue's team has been solid all season, and the offense has been explosive, scoring 47 points in its last four games.
Hammonton's two losses were to Mainland (11-0) and Egg Harbor Township (6-4). Four of the Blue Devils' wins have come by shutout; in two others, they allowed seven points or fewer.
Still, Hammonton appears to be overmatched in this one. Shawnee overmatches pretty much everyone. This will be no different.
PICK: Shawnee, 34-13.
* West Deptford (9-1) at Delsea (7-3), 7 p.m.
If there are more than 10 passes combined in this game, it will be a surprise. Both teams are exceptional at running the ball. It's really fitting that they are facing each other, as they have so many similarities.
Both Folsom and Marchese are highly respected and have coached many big games.
It sounds cliché, but the team that makes the fewest mistakes (turnovers, penalties) should win this one. So . . .
PICK: Delsea, 21-19.
Game-time temps for tomorrow are expected to be around freezing, with a cold, steady wind, making it feel in the low 20s. Bundle up, everyone.
And for crying out loud, here's hoping no one is brave (stupid?) enough to come shirtless, with team letters painted on his chest. That makes us cold to even look at. *